Will Moyes be given time to find form as his predecessor was?
This is the question on every critic’s lips at the moment, and despite the vote of confidence coming out of the United board-room, no one as of yet can be sure of what the answer is. One thing is for sure though, results will dictate the chosen one’s future and the first thing on his agenda must be to tackle United’s problem areas.
Trying to pick out the positives in the Manchester United camp at the moment is like trying to figure out Obafemi Martins’ age, it’s an almost impossible feat.
Of course there are a few exceptions to the rule- David De Gea’s continued success for example- but they are far outweighed by the negatives. In this blog I provide a snap-shot list of some of those key (and often overlooked) problem areas for David Moyes and his boys is red.
1. No natural back-up at right back.
David Moyes tried to start the season without a natural right back. With Rafael out, an experienced or at least competent back up right-back should have been first on his shopping list- Varela came in but it seems like he’s one for the future. All successful teams in the top-flight in Europe and domestically have pacey wide defenders with the ability to get forward and demonstrate some flair coupled with a defensive nouse. Unfortunately Smalling and Jones, despite being solid defenders, are about as productive in this position as the US Government is in theirs at the moment. Fabio looked bright there when he played, despite it being his un-natural side, but Rafael was sorely missed during the early stages of the season, if he ends up missing again then United could have some real problems.
2. Tactical headaches.
United undoubtedly have a level of squad depth as good as any, but Moyes needs to find a way to play his top players together in their natural positions. Trying to play two defensive midfield players alongside eachother in Carrick and Fellaini and coupling this with Wellbeck out wide seems to be producing a midfield performance as toothless as Hey Arnold’s grandpa. Moyes needs to find a way to mould a midfield consisting of his best players: Kagawa, Carrick, Fellaini, Valencia and possibly even Rooney, whilst also keeping the width and pace that makes Manchester United such a ruthless attacking machine.
3. Ignoring Fergie.
Fair enough Moyes needs to stamp his authority on the Manchester United team and back room staff. He could be forgiven for ignoring some of the more insignificant advice coming from his predecessor, but asking almost every key member of last seasons championship-winning back-room engine to leave? A very brave move, especially as ex-goal keeping coach Eric Steele has now made the snub to Fergie’s advice public. If Moyes wanted a smooth transition as all United fans did, maybe he should’ve bitten the bullet and left his friends (Including the inexperienced Phil Neville) behind.
Things haven’t been looking pretty for Moyes for a while then…
4. Press conference school-boys.
This is a big problem for Moyes, as he really is rubbing salt in the wound for United fans and tying himself in the kind of knots you’d only expect to find in Fellaini’s fro or Hargreaves’ hamstrings.
United fans wouldn’t be considered crazy if they thought David Moyes was deliberately sabotaging his own press conferences. He seems to be as successful in the hot-seat as Phil Neville was playing the yes or no game for MUTV -(if you haven’t witnessed this yet, here’s your cue to open a youtube tab) – saying all the wrong things at the wrong time.
A couple of school-boy slip ups could be put down to new-job-nerves, but he’s racking up a list longer than the items on his summer shopping list- half of which he left in the trolley because he left his wallet at home.
You have to feel sorry for the man given the pressure he found himself under due to the Rooney saga, but that’s settled now and he needs to stop slipping up and trying to catch himself in the following press conference. Admittedly comments he’s made have been taken out of context, particularly those suggesting Rooney was second fiddle to Van Persie, since then, it has become clear that the comments were made in reference to the advanced striker’s role.
Planning responses that aren’t unsettling United fans or begging to be twisted out of context is something Moyes will have to learn quickly though. United fans all over the world will be getting tired of hearing “I’ve heard he’s a good player” and “everyone tells me he’s a hard worker”… They’ll be hoping the ‘chosen one’ opens those big-eyes of his and sees things for himself sometime soon. At the moment Fergusons successor is making it sound like he’s either been locked in a cupboard with Varela for six months or has caught a case of temporary eye-problems after rubbing shoulders with Paul Scholes.
The Red devils faithful will be hoping the nerves settle and they never hear words to the tune of “I’ve been in situations similar to this at Everton and Preston” again.
The Kagawa conundrum is causing headaches at United
5. The Kagawa conundrum.
Out wide Shinji Kagawa undoubtedly seems to be half the player he was at Dortmund, where he was instrumental in a pacey, counter-attacking style of football. That’s largely the point most are missing though, United aren’t playing that style of football. It seems as though the United players are being ‘re-programmed’, when they receive the ball they seem to be caught in two minds and ultimately opt for a slow and predictable build-up. If Moyes wants the best out of Kagawa he needs to play direct-pacey football. If he could keep width and get Kagawa and Rooney in behind Van Persie (or at least rotating between there and the wing) he’d be laughing. If the manager keeps denying opportunities to players who have previously shown promise- Zaha and Kagawa included- then he could have a rebellion on his hands.
6. Robbing Van Purse-thief?
Moyes doesn’t seem to know how to utilize the skills of the Dutch wonder and the manager’s indirect flat-tics appear to be robbing United’s talisman of chances. Perhaps the man at the pinnacle of the rusty spear-head for United has satisfied his thirst for a first major trophy, despite the man himself trying to reassure both himself and the fans otherwise all summer.
Either way, he looked really promising in pre-season and during the early stages of the season. I’m sure many United fans were breathing a sigh of relief, when they saw him rifling the ball in with his normal finesse. In more recent times though, he is increasingly cutting the image of a lonesome figure up top, particularly against West Brom and Shaktar where he seemed to see less of the ball than Lindegaard has this season.
Many United fans will be left fearing that the early-season signs of promise in Van Persie were simply the lingering effects of the Fergie-factor before they wore off. The Reds will be hoping that perhaps Van Persie just needs a consistent run of matches with Rooney either by his side, or playing in just behind him.
Valencia needs to recapture his roaring form
7. Getting the best out of Valencia.
The fact that this comes in at number 7 is quite fitting. Valencia’s lack of confidence hit rock-bottom when he gave up the shirt number, although this admittedly was more to do with his Ecuadorian roots, where superstition is taken far more seriously than in the UK.
Fans saw hints of the wide-man’s dormant talent against Leverkusen; hitting the flanks, demonstrating a reassured coolness on the ball, taking players on and providing a mix of drilled and floated crosses from the right… Not to mention that drilled finish that was reminiscent of some moments during his first season in red. However that confidence seems as inconsistent as Anderson’s form, and it needs to permeate consistent performances.
8. Phil Neville…